As of this writing, there is no word on a cause, but the 19th-century roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the iconic church dedicated to Our Lady, has been lost to fire.
The cathedral’s spire was engulfed in flames before tumbling over. Video footage from the scene showed fire and smoke spewing from the landmark, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations and home to priceless works of art. The flames appeared to be shooting out of the roof behind the nave of the cathedral.
“A special mission has been launched to try to save all works of art that can be saved,” Emmanuel Grégoire, first deputy to the mayor of Paris, said on French TV.
“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told French media.
In addition to being a UNESCO designated site, the Cathedral is home to priceless works of art, stained glass windows, and even the Crown of Thorns reputed to be worn by Jesus Christ on the original Good Friday.
Leaders of both Paris and the country of France put plans on hold for the day in order to stay abreast of the situation. Notre Dame is one of the most popular tourist stops in the nation. It was featured in the Victor Hugo novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” written about the bell ringer.
The Cathedral itself was undergoing restoration as the almost thousand-year-old structure was in dire need of maintenance repairs.
The cathedral renovation project was part of an effort to save the deteriorating building, which dates back almost 1,000 years. Weather and pollution have taken their toll on the stone structure.
“Pollution is the biggest culprit,” Philippe Villeneuve, architect in chief of historic monuments in France, told Time magazine in 2017. “We need to replace the ruined stones. We need to replace the joints with traditional materials. This is going to be extensive.”
At this point, the stones may be all that is left. We lift our voices with those of France to save the church that has graced the Seine for hundreds of years.